March 1987

Comment - Going for the

Front pictures info
Lock 1 Gathering
Evening of Archive

Pen Portrait - Frank

Guildford Water Festival
New Members
Centre pictures
Centre pictures info
Fundraising News
Little Venice Cavalcade
On Thin Ice
Working Parties
Bringing Canal's History
  to Life

Activities Centre

TV's 'Sooty' in
  Sponsored Walk

Bat Cave in Kent
Homes with a View
Ten Years Ago
Pinkerton's Profit
Gongoozler's Gossip
Terminus Town 20 yrs

Contact the Society

    bcnmsthd130 (13K)
No. 132 March 1987

front pic1 (39K)1
front pic2 (14K) front pic3 (14K)2,3


logo target 88 12K

The Society's aim to achieve Target '88', as the completion date for restoration of the Canal in Surrey, took a visible step forward last month when the first of five locks at St John's was fitted with new gates. The enormous task of restoring the lock chambers, started six years ago, is coming to an end and the volunteers responsible will soon be moving down to Woodham. It's now over to our volunteer lock gate builders and Frank Jones and his team to construct and instal the lock gates and paddle gear - a job which it is hoped will be completed by the end of this year.

In June the John Pinkerton is scheduled to cruise down to St John's for the first time - providing Brookwood Lock 12 is completed shortly and the pound below is refilled with water without delay. The event promises to be the highlight of the year and will focus public attention on the efforts and determination of the Society to achieve Target '88'.

The occasion will also provide a curtain raiser for another big event of the year - the Inland Waterways Association's National Steam and Small Boat Festival being held on the canal at Frimley Lodge Park on 13th and 14th June.

New incentive to urge completion
Just when we thought the threat of housing developments on riparian farmland at Crookham and Odiham had been lifted for the foreseeable future, the Government announces its plans to release agricultural land for housing, industrial use and leisure development.

The relaxation on planning restrictions appeared to cause the environmental ministers some embarrassment following the resolute resistance of local authorities to release more rural land to accommodate the Government's new housing quotas in such areas as north east Hampshire.

Mr Michael Jopling, Minister for Agriculture, has tried to reassure us that the release of farmland for other purposes is not a charter for a change in planning policy. But many people will get cold comfort from his words when not so many months ago the Prime Minister told us that 'market forces must rule'.

While one must recognise changing circumstances and the need to develop land according to our needs, it is just as important to consider the effect new developments have on the existing environment.

Space is a vital ingredient. For instance, the trees, open spaces and undeveloped land bordering the canal are as important to the amenity value of the navigation as restoration itself.

While members of the Society recognise the unique recreational attribute we have in the existence of the Canal, it will not become fully appreciated and perhaps understood more widely until the Waterway is reopened and in use as a navigation again.

The prospect of renewed pressure to develop riparian open spaces and farmland is another good reason for doubling our efforts to meet Target '88' and so help protect our new waterway amenity.
[back to top]

The members elected to the Executive Committee would like it to be known that opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily the official view of the Society.

If that whiff of controversy prompts you to read BCNews more avidly that's something the worthwhile achieved by the above disclaimer. As one reader points out in the letters column, editing it can be a thankless task. But it is brightened up by the letters we receive commenting on what we publish; your views and observations and criticism. Ideas are not restricted to officials and opinions should not be confined to committee meetings. We would like to hear them from you.

Apologies for the late publication and delivery of the January edition due to a number of circumstances beyond our control.
[back to top]

The Society's 10th Annual General Meeting will be held on Saturday 25th April at the Canadian International School (formerly Robert Haining School), Mytchett Place Road, Mytchett, starting at 6.30pm.

(Top) Fancy dress outing for members of the Basingstoke Canal Canoe Club, fortified by a glass of mulled wine, at Chequers Bridge, Crookham, on Boxing Day. (Bottom left) The Society's full-time team, Martin Smith, Jim Reid and Dave Wedd at Woodend Bridge, St John's, which they have restored to its original condition. (Bottom right) The newly fitted lock gates in Lock 11 at St John's.
(Photographs: Dieter Jebens. Processing and printing: Clive Durley).
[back to top]

The news of the Festival floods in. In association with the IWA National Steam and Small Boat Festival at Frimley Lodge Park on June 13/14, there will be a gathering of larger craft below Lock 1. This will be the first organised event at this end of the canal since 1968, when boats cruised up to the first lock to campaign for the canal's restoration.

The aim of the rally on this recently fully-dredged stretch is to allow participation in the Festival by those unable to reach it by water. And it will focus attention on the section in Surrey not yet re-opened. The event is to be called the "Lock 1 Gathering" and is to be run to full rally standards.

Those who enter for the Gathering will have full access to the Festival site by means of a regular, free mini-bus service. A harbour master has been appointed and entry forms are available from Adrian Birtles, 58a High Street, Twyford, Berks, RG10 9AQ. Please send a SAE.

Further news comes in the form of another sponsor for the Festival. British Waterways Leisure, part of the British Waterways Board, is to provide sponsorship to the amount of £5,000. This sponsorship will help guarantee that the Festival is a major fund-raising event and thus aid the restoration of the canal. The sponsorship is part of an on-going arrangement between the Inland Waterways Association and BWB, whereby BWB sponsors the IWA's three annual national events.

Other sponsors for the Festivals include Surrey and Hampshire County Councils, Surrey Heath Borough Council, Johnson Wax and Marconi,

Entries are coming in fast and all the signs point to there being 100 or more boats on the canal for the Festival. A strong contingent of Victorian steam powered launches will be a big attraction. A number of traditional Thames rowing skiffs are also expected and it's hoped that the Canadian canoe club will be organising an event.

For those who don't know Frimley Lodge Park, it is an ideal setting for the Festival, offering 50 acres of tree-lined rural environment adjacent to the canal. In addition to pitches for cricket, hockey, football and a pitch and putt course, there is a keep-fit trim trail laid out with 28 different exercise points available for use.

Entertainments at the Festival will be many and varied. The line-up to date includes a hot air balloon from British Airways (with rides available, conditions permitting), bouncy castles, side shows, magician, fairground organ, traction engines, Morris dancing — and of course the trade show, BWB, IWA and SHCS marquees. And don't forget the food on-site, beer tent, boat trips and much, much more.

The Festival will be open to the public on Saturday and Sunday from 11.00am to 6.00pm. On Saturday night Society members and boat entrants are invited to a barbeque with Cuff Billet and his jazz band in attendance for entertainment. Barbecued beefburgers, herby sausages, with a selection of delicious salads, roll and butter and a choice of gateaux will be on the menu. Details of how to book are detailed on a separate sheet enclosed with the News.

It promises to be a great weekend — remember the more people you tell about the Festival, and encourage to come along, the greater its success will be. And the sooner will the canal be fully re-opened.

See you there!

The Festival will include a trade show and exhibition. If you've got something to sell or promote this is a first class opportunity to meet not only waterways enthusiasts but hundreds of local visitors too. Enquiries for exhibition space to: Mike McGrath, 2 Weir Court, Thames Street, Weybridge, Surrey. Tel: 0932 47826.

[back to top]

As a part of the build-up to the IWA National Steam and Small Boat Festival at Frimley in June, the Society is holding another evening of archive films. The earlier very successful presentations by John Huntley are to be continued with another showing of rare films with Mr Huntley in the chair.

The content of the evening hopefully will include historic film of the Basingstoke Canal, steam vessels on the Rivers Thames and Wey, steam propulsion on the railways (and roads) of Surrey and Hampshire, and archive material of Camberley and area.

Make a note of the time, date and venue now — 8.00pm WEDNESDAY, 3rd JUNE at CIVIC HALL, CAMBERLEY. Ticket details in the nevt issue of the News.

The 'editorial' canoe is becoming something of a veteran of the canal. It's now adorned with five or more different coloured annual licence stickers, like a row of campaign medals.

This year the canal licence for the distinguished Canadian canoe was renewed immediately upon receipt of the application in the hope of getting an 'exclusive' low registration number as a reward for the unexpected prompt payment.

Being averagely superstitious (we don't walk under ladders, and so on), you can imagine our reaction upon opening the returned envelope to find the 1987 licence colour is black and the registration number 0013.
[back to top]

It is questionable whether restoration of the Basingstoke Canal would have progressed as far as it has today without a few key people. One such person is Frank Jones.

Although he can recall visiting the Canal at the age of five for walks along the towpath with his father, his interest did not have any practical implications until his brother, Peter, introduced him to the voluntary restoration movement some 20 years later, in the early 1970's.

Born in Farnborough, one of a family of seven, Frank started work in Aldershot as a warehouse foreman. Fourteen jobs later, he set off for North Wales to pursue an interest in climbing. His decision had another purpose too. The CND movement had started; the fear of nuclear pollution was being felt and the threat of a holocaust was seen as a real possibility.

Equipped with a sleeping bag, a knife and a box of matches, Frank decided to test his own chances of survival. He found a 7ft x 3ft high cave in the isolated Llanberis Pass on the edge of Snowdonia. There he spent 3 months living off the land. In the process he lost 56lbs in weight and all his strength, forcing him to return to civilisation in the guise of Manchester. Like most events in Frank's life he takes a purely practical view of this unusual escapade. It demonstrated to him that even if he survived the bomb, his spartan life style was a certain killer. And that survival, at least on a personal level, was a matter of sorting out the actual problems to be faced tomorrow and less about the unknown events of the future.

After training to be a buyer, he moved south again and took up a career in work study, qualifying at Kingston technical college. For a time he was employed by a firm manufacturing electrical components in Acton. Here he learned a good deal about industrial relations and witnessed the human suffering, even suicides, caused by bitter industrial strife.

Frank's interest in waterways was aroused by Sir Frank Price speaking as Chairman of British Waterways Board. He was particularly impressed by the fact that, despite Sir Frank's catalogue of difficulties which confronted him in running the Board's 3,0.00 miles of inland navigations, the Chairman's idea of relaxation was to take a party of friends cruising on the waters which were so often the cause of his troubles.

Frank became involved on the Basingstoke when he joined the first official working parties clearing the towpath in Hampshire, late in 1972, following the County Council's acquisition. When Jeff Holman withdrew as Working Party Organiser he handed over to Frank.

His weekend stints turned into full-time voluntary work when he learned up with Martin Smith and they worked on Lock 25.

That was in 1975, about the time the Manpower Services Commission devised the Job Creation Programme, Frank recognised the opportunity to organise a full-time team of workers to accelerate restoration of the Deepcut 14 flight of locks once regarded as a prohibitively costly restoration project. With the guidance of John Morton of the Camberley Careers Office, and visits to Whitehall, the Society was ultimately granted £56,000 for a six-month JCP. Martin remembers the date well — it was 21st February 1977. Eight years later, and successive grants totalling over £1/2 million, the Deepcut flight was restored and two of the three locks at Brookwood were partially refurbished.

One of Frank's unique achievements among waterways workers not specifically trained to do the job was to learn how to construct lock gates. He did this by visiting British Waterways' workshop at Bull's Bridge on the Grand Union. Already Frank has been responsible for more than 80 gates built at the Deepcut workshop, and now his knowledge is being sought by other waterways restorers.

Although Frank's working time (and a good deal of his off-duty hours) are spent working on the Canal with Jim Reid, Martin Smith and the Society's latest full-time recruit Dave Wedd, his interests cover a range of other subjects. Among them are butterfly breeding, growing lilies, New Orleans jazz and model making.

As the Society's Canal manager, Frank is not only responsible for his full-time team but also provides a vital link between Surrey CC and voluntary workers.

Had his change of status from volunteer to professional worker altered his personal interest in the project, we asked? He replied that it had not. But his understanding of the problems involved and having to solve them, day by day, had tempered his one time expectation that 'it's all going to happen tomorrow!'
[back to top]

Coming Events
Organised by the Guildford and Reading Branch of the Inland Waterways Association, the event will again play an important part in the Guildford Festival 10 mark the centenary of Harry Stevens (1887 - 1970) who gave the River Wey to the National Trust in the 1960's.

Over the weekend of Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th July at Millmead there will be a gathering of boats and the usual full programme of waterside entertainment for all the family, including boat trips, bar and music, craft stalls and local waterways societies' displays and sales stands.

Boat entry fee is £3 plus a charge for the commemorative plaque if required. For boat entry forms, write with SAE to Mrs P. Perry-Barton, Segren, Grove Road, Beacon Hill, Hindhead, Surrey, GU266PH, telephone Hindhead (042873) 6496.
[back to top]

Dear Sirs, 21st January, 1987
Barbara and I hope to be moving to the New Forest area sometime this year which means that I shall have to give up my pastimes of addressing envelopes for the Newsletter and running the Society's photocopier.

Rather than leave it to the last moment I think it might be a good idea if someone should volunteer now to take one or both of these jobs on then I shall be able to show them the ropes and not leave them to flounder on their own.

The addressing job involves maintaining the list of members according to instructions from the Membership Secretary and then obtaining photocopies on special sheets of sticky labels. These labels are then peeled off and affixed to the envelopes. The job entails on average five evenings every two months — about 15 hours work. It might take a little longer when reminders have to be sent out to Members who have not renewed their subscription when due. (So please send your remittance as near to the 1st March as possible and save your fellow members extra work — and the Society extra expense). The use of a typewriter is necessary for this work.

Obviously it is convenient but by no means necessary for the person who does the envelopes to also operate the photocopier.

The copier is a Nashua 1220 and is covered by a service agreement so if any problems arise a phone call is all that is necessary to obtain help.The supplies of toner, developer and paper are also delivered in response to a phone call. It is a good way of meeting other Members of the Society and it is hoped to take in work for other organisations on a repayment basis that will help to defray the costs of running the machine.

If anyone is interested in these jobs I will be happy to give them full details on Fleet (0252) 615694 after 7pm.
Yours faithfully
Clive Durley,
15 Kenilworth Road,
Fleet, Hants GUI3 9AJ. Dear Sirs, 16th January 1987
In Basingstoke Canal News No. 30, the letter from K. Blake accuses the Society of apathy, who are these apathetic members of our Society?

Possibly some 90% of the membership are people, and families, living in the vicinity of the Canal whose only interest is in seeing 30 miles of dirty, derelict ditch transformed into 30 miles of pleasant linear park with a water feature, the fact that the water feature may also be a usable Canal is of incidental interest to them, they pay their subscriptions and do not get involved, this is fine, we certainly need their money and we definitely need them on our side, they are not really apathetic, they never intended to become physically involved when they joined.

Who else have we?, 'The Canal Enthusiast', they will talk about Canals, they will collect Canalomania, they are absolute mines of utterly boring information on Canals, they probably own a boat, they do not work restoring Canals, far too busy in their narrow boat, narrow minded world, but, when the restoration of our Canal is completed watch them come out of the woodwork to join in the celebrations with their 'look what WE have achieved', the poor, naive, working volun­teer will just not get a look in, no apathy there, no work either.

This leaves a few, very few, to do the work, obviously it would be great to have more help but it is a cry in the wilderness, so we just get on with it, if K. Blake, or anyone else for that matter, finds he/she is available for work on the 2nd weekend of any month may I suggest that they come along to Lock 4 at Woodham and join the professionals (with apologies to another, larger, organisation).

We always muster at least 6/7, usually more, we have a few wheelbarrows (clapped) and a concrete mixer (small and clapped), these constitute the mechanical assistance, everything else is pure muscle, we need the 20 minute lunch break we are permitted, to rest and recover from the morning's work, there is no energy available to walk to the pub, the bricklayer certainly will not disappear as we all lay bricks, in the same way that we all do ANY job that has to be done.

We are the hardest working, the most friendly, the greatest mickey takers, the longest lasting working group on the Canal, in a word, the BEST.

If you think you can stand the pace and have that very necessary sense of humour, come and join us.
Yours faithfully,
Harvey Williams,
'The Bield',
Stonebridge Fields,
Shalford, Guildford, Surrey.

Dear Sir,
Wet weather is a good way of finding out how popular the canal towpath is as a footpath. By the amount of ankle deep mud, it is as popular as the North Downs Way, with the same problems underfoot.

In the Odiham area one finds the true hardcore surface is covered with grass and scrub and so people are walking closer to the edge of the canal. This erodes the canal bank and makes the edge of the canal boggy.

Also in the area I have noticed a short length of the towpath, above Broad Oak Bridge is being used by horse riders diverting from an overgrown section of the adjacent bridlepath from Poland Farm. A barrier would be welcome in this area. (OS Sheet 186 GR753520).
12 Lilford Road,
London, SE5 9HX.

12th February 1987 Dear Editors,
Congratulations on the first two issues of Basingstoke Canal News. The new format is clear and well presented, with a good coverage of events in each issue. The regular update on progress and other matters of interest to the canal is much appreciated by those of us unable to keep in personal contact with the Society and restoration work.

Having experience in the "back room" myself I know that on occasion it can seem a thankless chore. Many thanks for your efforts!
Lewis Phillips,
Hendrick Villa,
44 Handrick Avenue,
London, SW12 8TL.
[back to top]


Joan PayneFarnborough
Jon GaddSurbiton
Mrs J.A. MalyonHinchley Wood
Mr & Mrs A. ScotFleet
Patricia BohlingPyrford
John & Ann GoodmanWoking
Mr J. HawkinLightwater
Mr & Mrs E.N. BrothersCrookham Village
Mr J.P.DonovanKnaphill
Mr R.E. FutterFleet
Mr J.M. FraserWoking
Mr & Mrs D.G.BoydAldershot
Tony ShirtliffNormandy
Joan HodsonWest Byfleet
Fabian HiscockPlymouth
Dave WeddCamberley

slogan 16k

Annual Subscriptions are due for renewal on 1st March 1987. Members who pay by cash, cheque or money order are reminded of the rates; Adult — £6.50. Family - £7.50. OAP - £2.00. OAP Couple - £4.00. Group - £10.00. Junior (under 18) - £2.00. Life - £80.00.
[back to top]

Tuesday 24th March
An illustrated talk by the Council for the Preservation of Rural England (CPRE), Fleet Cricket Club, Reading Road North, Fleet, 8.00pm.

Monday 13th April
Canadian waterways on film presented by the Canadian High Commission, Christ Church Hall, Woking, 8.00pm,

Saturday 25th April
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING, Canadian International School (formerly Robert Haining School) , Mytchett Place Road, Mytchett, 6.30prn. (For full details of agenda etc. see enclosed sheets).

Weekend 2nd/4th May
IWA Canalway Caualcade, Little Venice, Regents Canal, London.

Sunday 17th May
The Society's annual "Sponsored Walk and Restoration Trail" — see Fund Raising News. Celebrity guest at Ash Lock too!

Wednesday 3rd June
Archive Film Evening presented by John Huntley, Civic Hall, Camberley, 8.00pm.

WEEKEND 13th/14th JUNE
IWA National Steam and Small Boat Festival at Frimley Lodge Park. Book the date now!

Weekend 11th/12th July
IWA Guildford Water Festival.

Please note that your friends are especially welcome at all our events, so bring them along.

WOKING SOCIAL EVENINGS are held at the Christ Church Hall, Town Square, Woking (50 yards from the Centre Halls). Coffee and biscuits available, plus the Sales Stand.

FLEET SOCIAL EVENINGS are held at the Fleet Cricket Clubroom, Calthorpe Park, off Reading Road North, Fleet. (1st left about 200 yards from the Oatsheaf pub traffic lights on the A323 Fleet - Hartley Wintney road.) Bar available.
[back to top]

We have a target dale of 1988 for re-opening the canal. To make sure that happens, the Society's Executive Committee has been giving much thought to the question of fund raising. Although our financial position remains sound, a substantial injection of additional funds would make sure that "Target 1988' is achieved. In particular the money would enable us to give dredging in Hampshire a much-needed boost, by contributing to a new jointly funded maintenance dredger.

There must be members of the Society who can help either directly or indirectly - you may know of others who can help or you may have useful connections to be followed up. please contact Derek Truman on Fleet 613435 or by post to Compton Cottage, 11 Connaught Road, Fleet, Hants. GUI3 9RA with your offers of assistance.

page 7 --
inside front pic3 (16K) inside front pic4 (16K)1,2
(Left) NA CRO workers demolishing the second World War pillbox adjacent to Brookwood lock 12 seen a! an advanced stage of restoration. The pillbox had to be removed as part of a general clearance for improved access to the lock chamber and safe operation of the lock gales. (Right) Curzon Bridge comes tumbling down .. . demolition work in progress during February to remove the bridge which was closed several years ago. A new bridge will be built.
[back to top]

200 Club 1987
We are very grateful to all those who belonged lo the 200 Club in 1986. The 99 members raised some £650 for ihe Society and received just a shade less back in prizes. December winners were:-Mr.D. Fettle £50; Mr. L.H. Phillips £24; Mr. & Mrs. Bliss £J2; Mr. Helley £12.

At the time of writing. 1987 is doing even better with 110 members. It is still not too late to join — we will happily t ake your money— £12 for the full year if you're feeling generous or pro rata £1 a month for the remainder, i.e. £10 from March onwards, £9 from April etc. Cheques to Derek Truman, Compton Cottage, 11 Connaught Road, Fleet, Hants. GU13 9RA (Fleet 613435) who also has plenty of application forms.

You can Help!
Despite suggestions to the contrary, the Society still needs a great deal of money. There is much work to do and we have to ensure there are adequate funds to meet the wage bill of our full-time team and the maintenance costs of our equipment, in particular our dredger Peeseverance and the mud barges. We also have cash flow problems - high income in some months with membership subscriptions, tax refunds, sponsored walk money, John Pinkertun profits, the proceeds from the annual draw and the DoE receipts. And net cash outflow at other times.

Big events, which do not always turn out to be money spinners need tremendous organisation. If members are willing to run these, that is all to the good. But we are just as happy to have volunteers to organise "small" events. Pauline Hadlow's stall at Camberley raised £600 plus - anyone willing to do the same in Woking or Fleet? Edwin Chappell is going great guns with his Webb Ivory catalogue. Jumble sales are pure profit and with a little extra organisation and the maximum number of helpers can offer an excellent return on the effort involved.

And we still need good contact with firms which might be willing to make donations lo the Society.

Ideas and preferably willingness to put them into operation, contacts or genera! offers of help to Derek Truman please. [back to top]

Thank you!
The Society has recently received the following donations:
The Talks Panel £43; 1st Horsell Scouts Relay Run £56; D.A. Newton £5; R.W. Mew £10: P. Hollon £5; IWA Guildford Water Festival 1986 £100; Pauline Hadlow £5 (yet more from her Camberley stall!).

Thanks to all who contributed and yet again have helped towards our 1988 target.
[back to top]

The success of the 1986 IWA Canalway Cavalcade at Little Venice on the Regents Canal is reflected in not only a most generous donation of £500 to the Society's funds, but also in the fact that this event is to become an annual waterways highlight in London.

Many thanks are due to the London Branch of the IWA for this generous donation and we wish them well with this year's Cavalcade that will be held on 2nd-4th May.

ON THIN ICE! - (from The Times 16/01/87)
In Chester, a woman had a lucky escape when she mistakenly drove her Mini Metro along a frozen canal. She thought she was on Canal Street, not the Shropshire Union Canal.

The woman drove more than 100 yards before being warned hy a passer-by. She ran off across the ice, abandoning her car.
[back to top]

WORKING PARTIES and Progress - Peter Cooper
These notes are being written when the worst of the winter weather has just about wiped out any form of restoration work on the canal; it is hoped that, by the time they are read, everything will be back in full swing. There will be plenty to do in the coming months, with the Woodham flight of locks becoming the focus of much of the activity. If we are to complete restoration in 1988 it will require "all hands to the pump", and the Woodham Flight is where most of those hands will be needed. If you haven't done your bit yet, now's the time to come along and help.

Details of the current working parties are given below. It is usually advisable to contact your working party leader, shortly before attending, in case there is a last minute change of plan.

St Johns (or Goldsworth) locks Every weekend
By the time of the January Freeze, Lock 7 was almost complete, wanting only the completion of two quadrants and the replacement of some coping stones on the top wing walls. Lock 8 still had a third of a chamber wall to complete, with several other jobs to follow, so it will take a little time yet.

The working location is likely to be unpredictable in the next few months; depending upon the weather and the rate of progress, work may well have moved on to the Woodham Flight, at Locks 2 and 3, so it is particularly advisable to check where the work is before you attend. The coordinator of the work on these locks is MIKE FELLOWS on Wokingham (0734) 787428, and for further details you should contact him or one of the working party leaders listed below. The St Johns roster is:-

7/8 Mar14/15 Mar21/22 Mar28/29 Mar
4/5 Apr11/12 Apr18/19 Apr25/26 Apr
2/3 May9/10 May16/17 May23/24 May

JW - JULES WOOD - Farnborough 515737
PJ - PETER JONES - Aldershot 313076
PR - PETER REDWAY - Woking 21710
EC - EDWIN CHAPPELL - Ashtead 72631

Dredging in Hampshire Every Weekend
At the point of the big winter freeze, the steam dredger "Perseverance" had just passed through Zephon Common Swing Bridge; the next bridge is Malthouse, which should be reached by summer. Imminent developments expected are a boiler inspection and a move to a new tip site. Recent recruitment drives have been most successful, just about doubling the size of the dredger's work force, but the team are, nevertheless, still on the lookout for new recruits. For further details contact ANDY STUMPF on 0923-778231 (work) or Chesham 785720, or BRIANE BANE on Hook 3627.

Lock gate building
For the moment, all gates that can be measured for have been assembled; this party will continue to meet, to perform various other related jobs. Dates are:— 7/8 Mar, 4/5 Apr, 2/3 May
For details contact FRANK JONES on Deepcut 835711 (workshop) or Camberley 28367 (home). *** SEE NOTE below on PASSES

Towpath work in Surrey
First and third Sundays of the month — 1 Mar, 15 Mar, 5 Apr.
This party will continue to operate in the Sheerwater area, until they break in April for the summer. Turnouts have been good, but even more would be welcome; this is unskilled work that family parties can join in. For further details contact PETER JACKMAN on Woking 72132.

Lock 4 (Woodham)
Second weekend of the month - 7/8 Mar, 11/12 Apr, 9/10 May.
Here the top cill is being rebuilt, and the lower recess walls are being completed. Some demolition has been done recently, including a flank wall and lower wing wall. For further details contact PABLO HAWORTH on Byfleet (09323) 42081.

Lock 1 (Woodham)
Third weekend of the month - 14/15 Mar, 18/19 Apr, 16/17 May.
There is not much to report here, as the weather has had a severe impact on work. Only a few jobs remain to be done at this lock. For details contact DICK HARPER-WHITE on Weybridge (0932) 42074 or ROY DAVENPORT on 01-979-7075.

Full time work
The rebuilding of Woodend Bridge, St Johns, was completed by the Society's full time workers, on schedule, just before Christmas. It is indeed a handsome piece of work. By the time of the January freeze, Lock 12 was nearing completion, with the lower mitre cill and lower collars to be done, besides finishing jobs like quadrants and bollards.

Weekday volunteering
If you can make yourself available for work on the canal during the week, even if only for a few days, your con­tribution will be most welcome. You should contact FRANK JONES on Deepcut 835711 (workshop) or Camberley 28367 (home) and he will be happy to find you something to do.
*** Weekday volunteers also SEE BELOW

*** PASSES for Deepcut
The military road through Pirbright Camp is now open only to authorised vehicles, and this includes the access point to the lock gate workshop at Lock 28. If you need to go there, to attend a working party or for some other specific reason, take some means of identification with you and state your business at the road barrier. You should then be granted a temporary pass.

Work Camp 1987
This year's Summer Work Camp will be held from Saturday 18th July to Sunday 2nd August. The work will be at Locks 2 and 3 at Woodham, and will include the bypass channel and bottom cill at Lock 3; these will be the last bypass channel and bottom cill to be done on the canal — we are now getting to the time of the "last" of just about everything in this restoration effort. This will be the last big camp on this canal, and it is hoped to provide bricklaying instruction to allow construction of the main chamber walls to proceed. An application form is enclosed.
[back to top]

Time Off
A cruise aboard the John Pinkerton led a group of young actors to write and perform a play about Alec Harmsworth's famous last trip to Basingstoke.

The idea originated from Gareth Thomas, Arts Officer at Basingstoke's Central Studio, as he contemplated the dark waters of the canal and wondered when the last commercial narrow boat had tied up in the town centre.

His curiosity prompted the studio's tutor, Geoffrey Dye, to discover the story of the last attempt to reach t he town's former canal wharf, made by AJ.Harmsworth aboard 'Basingstoke' in 1913.

"The Voyage of the Basingstoke" was written by young players of the Youth Theatre Group who gave a convincing portrayal of the characters and events which took place over seventy years ago.

The prolific Harmsworth family, and canal associates, provided parts for 19 players — including two of their tutors John Bennett and Paul Wells — whose performances, both collectively in many lively crowd scenes, and individually, had professional polish.

Alec Harmswonh was played by Ian Keetch as a tenacious yet retiring man who took his responsibilities seriously. Sarah French portrayed his wife, Susan, as a headstrong but vulnerable woman who, despite her protestations over the time her husband spent 'in the yard', respected and supported him in his business.

Every play must have its lighter moments, nicely provided by Tim Collins who played the real life character of Ivan Heald, the Daily Express reporter who followed the journey.

In spite of a series of pictures taken by a Daily Sketch photographer and newsreel of the trip, little has been written about it. so the dialogue was the subject of considerable original research (helped by Tony Harmsworth) and plenty of imagination — a combination which provided an illuminating and entertaining insight into the 'life and times of A.J. Harmsworth' as the play is sub-titled.

Facts such as Alec Harrnsworth's accident as a child injuring a leg which continued to trouble him in adult life. The hardships he and his wife faced in running the family business which led them to sweep the ice for skaters in winter, and sew cushions for rowers in summer. And numerous touches of credible reality such as Harmsworth's response to a request by Heald to take his photograph. "Photograph?" questions Mr Harmsworth, "What do you want my photograph for?" he asks. A family reluctance to face the camera which has been handed down to this day! Descriptions, too, gave the play authenticity. Such as references to 'keeping the road open' as opposed to 'cut' which the professional navigators supposedly called canals and, "there's enough cress down there for a farm of it", referring to the state of the waterway.

The quality of the production was heightened by the excellent direction and lighting of the simple set depicting Harmsworth's Ash Vale boat yard, identified only by a pair of heavy wooden doors.

The only pity is that the play wasn't publicised more widely and specifically to the Society many of whose members would have enjoyed it.(DJ).
[back to top]

"Self-help" is the watchword associated with the Basingstoke Canal, demonstrated not only by the volunteers who set about restoring the navigation but also by those now making good use of it.

It's six years since a group of people discussed the idea of starting a boating centre on the canal at Fleet. Their leader Mr Beverley Jones, the Principal of North East Hampshire Institute, made a derelict shed available, at the back of Courtmoor School, for storage. By May in the following year, the group had purchased six canoes, two rowing dinghies and some essential equipment. And so the North East Hampshire Water Activity Association (NEHWACA) was formed, better known as 'Knee-whacker'.

From those small beginnings a lively activities centre has developed where young people can learn how to handle a boat, especially canoes, and then enjoy exploring the canal. The Centre now has the professional support of Geoff Turton which has enabled its facilities to be improved and more widely utilised to a point where demand is outstripping supply.

Last year the centre provided over 3,500 hours canoeing on the canal among 40 local community groups covering youth clubs, scouts and guides, schools, an unemployed group and a few adult groups. Now the 'fleet' has grown to nearly 40 canoes and dinghies.

Recognition of the centre's work was highlighted last year by a grant made by the newly formed Hampshire Royal Jubilee and Princes Trust.

The money was spent on buying four new Polly Pippin canoes especially suited to young, older and disabled canoeists, together with life jackets and paddles.

As NEHWACA gets better known, the demand for canoeing time increases. In the Chairman's annual report. Ann Hawkins appealed for more equipment, and volunteers to train as supervisors and instructors. Anyone willing to assist should contact Mrs Hawkins on Farnborough 542693. Enquiries about the Centre's facilities are welcome too. Contact: Geoff Turton. NEHWACA, c/o Courtmoor School,Springwoods. Fleet, Hants.

One of the original supporters, Hampshire's Canal manager, David Gerry writes, "Few people are aware that the centre exists and yet the Association has enabled several hundred youngsters to get some experience of being afloat and to explore and discover the canal. Most important of all is that the youngsters are learning about themselves, gaining confidence and learning about working together in a non-school environment. It is all part of bringing the canal back into use which is what the Society is all about".
[back to top]

In the News
TV star Sooty and Matthew Corbett are all set to join the Society's Sponsored Walk this year aimed to raise £6,000, And to encourage younger walkers to join in, there's to be a Restoration Trail with clues to solve along the way and prizes to be won.

With ten marshall points along the 18-mile towpath route between Woking and Fleet, walkers need cover Only a short distance to participate.

Sooty is expected to be at Ash Lock at 10.00am and plans to walk 7-1/2 miles with Matthew Corbett. If you would like to support this fund raising effort of the year. Sooty will welcome your sponsorship. Just fill in the amount in the sponsored walk booklet enclosed with your copy of 'BC News' and send it off with the money.

To encourage schools and other group entrants with their own fund raising projects, the Society is again inviting participation on an equal share basis: half the sponsorship money for the Society and the other half for a charitable cause of the group's choice.

With the focus on fund raising more than ever, the walk organiser, Graham Meade is appealing for every member to join in. "It's a fun day out for all ages and this year we've got the added interest of following the 'Restoration Trail'. And those who can't join the walk can support it just as well by sponsoring Sooty, or our Membership Secretary, Edwin ChappeH.who plans to walk the full 18 miles", said Graham.

Appeal for Marshalls
20 volunteers are needed to act as marshals on the day — just for the morning or afternoon will do. It's an ideal way to join in for less active members or those who want a lazy day out. Please give Graham Meade a call on Fleet 629466.
[back to top]

The first artificial bat cave in the Country was built last year in a disused chalk pit now part of Monkton Nature Reserve near Birchington.

Built by the London Region of the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers, the cave consists of a 50ft length of 5ft diameter concrete pipe sections buried to a depth of 4ft.

Inside, rough concrete shelving with brick and rubble crevices was laid on one side of the pipe for bat roosts hibernation. The pipeline is open at one end, protected by a steel grille, for bats to enter.

Similar schemes have been successfully introduced in Europe. Editors note: The BTCV is a registered charity carrying out conservation work throughout the Country. The pipes for the cave were donated by the Concrete Pipe Association.
[back to top]

Now is the time to turn out books, household items, clothes you no longer wear and anything else you don't need and can raise some money for the Society.

Betty Scammell will welcome your contributions and also offers of help on the day for a Jumble Sale at St Mary's Church Hall, Ash Vale, on Saturday, 28th March at 2.30pm.

Members living in the district please contact Betty and give her your support. Phone her on Aldershot 23215. It's your chance to support the Society.
[back to top]

'Fishing perhaps, or maybe an afternoon spin in the family launch?' was the way a Woking freesheet recently promoted the added benefits of buying one of the new £100,000 canal-side homes 'clustered round a quiet backwater' in Bridge Mews.

But where, will you be asking, is this idyllic haven? It's a development around the restored winding hole below Arthur's Bridge. True it overlooks the Canal, but with strong competition from the Goldsworth by-pass, Magnet and Southern's Warehouse and the new white concrete lego-style footbridge townwards - a delightful visual cocktail.
[back to top]

TEN YEARS AGO - from Newsletter Nos. 72 and 73
* The Society placed a firm order for construction of the John Pinkerton having raised over £5,000, and with the promise of £2,250 from Frensham businessman George Jackson, if the Society was able to raise an equal amount to complete the appeal.
* The Society's membership stood at 2,230 - about the same level as today.
* Surrey CC produced a plan which anticipated that dredging would be completed in 1980 and restoration of the locks by the end of 1981.
* The Guildford branch of the IWA published its proposals for improving and utilising the Canal in Woking as part of the town's redevelopment.
[back to top]

In the News
Our trip boat John Pinkerton had another profitable year in 1986, making £13,400 - just a little short of the previous year's record take.

The boat is now in the Deepcut dry dock for maintenance work and preparations for the new season starting at Easter.

Publicity material and posters are already being distributed. If you know a shopkeeper or public place where we can display a poster or display leaflets, then please give Graham Meade the boat's new promotions officer, a call on Fleet 629466. Hell be pleased to send you copies.

1987 Cruise Schedule Aldershot (Ash Lock)
17th - 4th June 1 hour public trips* -
Saturdays (except 30May) - 2.00 and 3.00pm.
Sundays and Bank Holidays - 11.00am, 12.30pm, 2.00pm and 3.3Opm.
Fare: Adult £1 child 50p
* seats not bookable.

Odiham (Colt Hill)
17th June — 4th October 2-1/2-hour public trips - Every Sunday and August Bank Holiday Monday — 2.30pm. Also at 2.30pm on Wednesdays during August School Holidays. Adult £2.00 child £1.00 (booking advised).

There will also be public trips on the John Pinkerton from Frimley Lodge Park throughout the Water Festival 13th and 14th June.

Booking a Party Charter
A cruise on the John Pinkerton makes an ideal family celebration outing; a novel way to organise a firm's annual social outing; a school educational trip or a quiet afternoon out for a party of older people.

Prices range from £35 for mid-week daytime trips for schools and senior citizens, to £75.00 for Friday or Saturday evenings. Other rates average £50 which is only £1.00 per head or less.

John Pinkerton carrries a maximum of 56 passengers (less if you are planning a meal on board). There's a bar on board but parties may bring their own food or a catering service can be arranged.

For full details ring bookings manager, Tony Karavis, on Farnborough (0252) 549037 and he'll send you details.
[back to top]

Boat Company treasurer, John Elliott, has set up a more efficient way of handling takings. Instead of taking the official envelope to his home in Fleet, and to save him picking up the contents which have a tendency to burst all over his hallway, this season crews may bank the money at their own bank or a branch of the Midland, and simply send the paying in receipt to the treasurer.

The form-filling element of the 'cashing-up' envelope will also be simplified. And you'll be asked to collect only bank notes and leave coins in the till.

Full details will be issued to all crews.

Please note that the new crews organiser, Elaine Manship, is up-dating the crewing list and wants to hear from all those who crewed last season and are willing to continue this year. Contact her, please by by phone or post: Mrs Elaine Manship, 61 Foxley Close, Blackwater, Camberley, Surrey, GU17 OJY. Tel: Yateley 879413.
[back to top]

If you'd like to steer or crew the John Pinkerton there is a special crew training day on Saturday, 11th April at Ash Lock, Aldershot, with two sessions at 11.00am and 2.30pm. Instruction will be given in boat handling, working in the galley and general information needed to operate the 68 ft. trip boat. Single persons, couples and family groups will all be welcome. If you'd like to learn more or wish to attend please contact Allan Prince on Alton 86538.
[back to top]

MARCONI have generously donated £150 towards the cost of entertainments at the Frimley Festival. Thank you.
CORRECTION to amount raised by St. Peter's Hospital, Chertsey on the 1986 Sponsored Walk. Should read £510 (not £375 as reported in the News 131}. Sorry — and thanks!
HOUSE sought backing onto either Basingstoke or Wey and Arun Canal. Details please to Mrs. M. Beard, "Shipwrights", 241 Benfleet Road, Benfleet, Essex SS7 1QG.
ARE you a salesman? The Society is looking for someone who can actively promote sales of the various publications that we produce. Requires daytime visiting to shops etc. If you fit the bill and want to help, please contact Phil Riley, address etc. below.
HEAR that Sainsburys have withdrawn their application for a supermarket development in Woking.
PERSEVERANCE continues to make great progress. She is through Zephon Common swing bridge now and soon will have Malthouse Bridge in her sights.
MEMBERSHIP of the Society in January stood at 2025 in total (473 adult, 1228 family, 4 junior, 237 GAP, 63 life and 20 group memberships).
COUNCILLOR Pat Bohling has joined the Society. Last May, as Mayor of Woking, Mrs. Bohling declared lock 14 at Brookwood to be open. Welcome!
ENTERPRISING member gave his next door neighbour a subscription to the Society for Christmas. Don't forget this Christmas, will you?
DRY dock at Deepcut now has a cover over it. Now repairs can be carried out in the dry in every possible sense!
MARQUEE to be used to house Society's exhibits, sales stand etc. at the Frimley Festival.
[back to top]

Time Off
A fascinating glimpse of the past came to light when our member Chris Wright of Printed Page at Winchester, recently found a copy of 'the only authorised official guide to Basingstoke', published in the early 1900's.

An advertisement by Willis and Co. 'Practical Watchmaker, Jewellers, Silversmiths and Opticians', with premises in Market Place, claimed 'conscientious work at moderate prices'. Presumably the same Willis who established the museum of clocks and watches in New Street which will be on show again later this year in the refurbished Old Town Hall which is now the museum.

T. Burberry & Sons, 'Drapers, Clothiers and House Furnishers' operated from The Emporium' and claimed 'the whole of the stock is well assorted and quite up-to-date', in a store which was 'well ventilated, and during the cold weather, heated through with hot water'. What a refreshing lack of superlatives today's advertisers rely upon to the point of distraction. Those were the days of home entertainment. H.E. Powell advertised his 'Pianoforte American Organ Harmonium and Music Warehouse at London Street and May Place', complete with a large practice room measuring 48ft long by 21ft wide and 14ft high.

While advertising was clear, precise and informative, promotional claims were just as colourful then as they are today. Basingstoke was described as 'teeming with historical associations and surrounded by scenery eminently pleasing in character'.

The town was (and probably still is) exactly 47-3/4 miles from London by rail (46 miles by road), and the fastest trains, run by the South Western Railway Company, took less than an hour to reach the Capital 'thus enabling business people engaged in the City to establish their homes in the eminently healthy neighbourhood, encompassed by scenes of rustic charm, and at the same time, pursue without inconvenience, their daily avocation' in 'Wen' as, apparently, William Cobbett delighted to call it. The fare? £33 per annum First Class; or £24.15s Second Class season ticket. A Third Class return was 3s ll-1/2d. The town was proud to claim that 'it has so far resisted the introduction of such 'improvements' as electric light, the electric tram and the motor omnibus'.

The town had two markets weekly — on Wednesdays principally to sell corn and cattle, and again on Saturdays, devoted mainly to selling provisions.

Referring to the canal, the guide book notes that 'one of the prime factors in the commercial growth of the town in the past has been the Basingstoke Canal ... For some years the canal has been practically disused; but it is reported that a scheme is afoot to convert it into a track for heavy motor traction which, should it be brought to a successful issue, will no doubt add greatly to the prosperity of the Borough'.

For the 'celebrated' Basingstoke Ales and Stouts (available in 4-1/2 gallon casks and upwards, and in bottles at 2/3d and 3/- per dozen) ordering was simplicity itself. No six-figure telephone numbers and STD codes to remember in those days. You need only dial 13 to place your order with John May and Co. Ltd. — highly recommended for their Special Oatmeal Stout to satisfy the inner man.

And for the outward appearances Mollederm shaving sticks cost lOd each at Turner and Co shops in London Street, Church Street or Queens Road. And for the ladies, Mollederm Face Powder which was claimed to "adhere to the skin, gives the velvety softness and delicate bloom of youth', came in sixpenny boxes.
[back to top]


Published by the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society Ltd., a non profit distributing company limited by guarantee, registered as a Charity. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Society.
Editors: Dieter Jebens, Chris de Wet. Production: Jo Evans.
Collation and Distribution: Janet and George Hedger, Clive Durley and helpers.
Editorial Office: 60 Middlebourne Lane, Farnham, Surrey GU10 3NJ. (Farnham 715230)
Chairman: Robin Higgs, 18 Barnsford Crescent, West End, Woking. (Chobham 7314)
Vice-Chairman: David Millett, 14 Dinorben Close, Fleet. (Fleet 617364)
Hon. Treasurer: Mrs Gwyneth Browne, 102a Aldershot Road, Fleet. (Fleet 621745)
Hon. Secretary: Philip Riley, Meadow Vale, Guildford Road, Normandy. (Worplesdon 234776)
Membership Secretary: Edwin Chappell, The Spinney, Meadow Road, Ashtead, Surrey, KT21 1QR. (Ashtead 72631)
Working Party Organiser: Mike Fellows, 30 Reynards Close, Winnersh, Wokingham, Berks. (Wokingham 787428)
Dredger Manager: Andy Stumpf, 37 Higham Road, Chesham, Bucks. (0494785720)
Working Party Information: Peter Jones (Aldershot 313076) and Peter Cooper (01-993-1105)
Trip Boat: Tony Karavis, 12 Loddon Road, Farnborough, Hants. (Farnborough 549037)
Sales Manager: Aubrey Slaughter, 37 Fir Tree Way, Fleet, Aldershot, Hants. GU13 9NB. (Fleet 623102)
Talks Organiser: Mrs Janet Greenfield, 9 Mistletoe Road, Yateley, Camberley. (Yateley 873167)
Exhibitions Manager: Phil Pratt, Flat 5 Fleetwood Court, Madeira Road, West Byfleet. (Byfleet 40281)

[back to top]


Last updated April 2005